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Tips to Help You Ace Your Next Term Paper

Writing a term paper is easily accomplished if you have a game plan for getting the job done. Here are five tips to help you ace your next term paper.

Do Your Research

Once you’ve narrowed down your term paper topic, start by reading about it in authoritative source material. Once you’ve collected and studied the information you need, you’ll be well-equipped to put your thoughts down on paper or your keyboard. To make the research process easier, take detailed notes. Whether you’re writing a term paper for an American history class or grade 11 physics exam papers, precise note-taking helps you retain information more easily and keeps you organized.

Creating a solid outline is crucial to writing a stellar term paper. Map out the introduction, the main body of the term paper, and then the conclusion. Make sure the thesis and the major points of the term paper are clearly defined. If you have any questions about the topic, go back and review your notes or do additional research, if necessary. Writing the term paper will be much easier if you have the structure and key points of the paper already nailed down.

With your outline complete, you’re ready to begin the writing process. Because most of us have an inner critic when we write, it’s a good idea to acknowledge this fact and carry on with the writing process anyway without procrastinating. A good way to circumvent the inner critic, which tends to slow us down while writing, is to create a quick first draft. Afterwards, you can go back and make revisions.

Citing Sources

Make sure you provide information about all of the source material you’ve used for your term paper — even information that you’ve reworded — to avoid plagiarism. Any direct quotations must have a citation. However, sources aren’t necessary for information that’s common knowledge, such as the location of a specific Civil War battle or the educational background of an American president.

Polish the Term Paper

Wait several hours, or preferably longer, and then return to your term paper and thoroughly proofread it. Keep an eagle eye out for spelling mistakes as well as grammar and punctuation errors. Also, make sure that the antecedent of every pronoun is clear. Then do a spell check and a grammar check using a program such as Microsoft Word to find mistakes you may have missed. As a final step, give the paper one last look to ensure that you’re ready to turn in the final draft.


what does the business term white paper mean

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What Is a White Paper?

Purpose of a white paper, how to write a white paper.

  • White Paper FAQs

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What Is a White Paper? Types, Purpose, and How To Write One

Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

what does the business term white paper mean

Investopedia / Michela Buttignol

A white paper is an informational document issued by a company or not-for-profit organization to promote or highlight the features of a solution, product, or service that it offers or plans to offer.

White papers are also used as a method of presenting government policies and legislation and gauging public opinion.

Key Takeaways

  • A white paper promotes a certain product, service, or methodology to influence current and prospective customer or investor decisions.
  • Three main types of white papers include backgrounders, numbered lists, and problem/solution white papers.
  • A white paper provides persuasive and factual evidence that a particular offering is a superior product or method of solving a problem.
  • White papers are commonly designed for business-to-business marketing purposes between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or between a wholesaler and a retailer. 

White papers are sales and marketing documents used to entice or persuade potential customers to learn more about a particular product, service, technology, or methodology.

White papers are commonly designed for business-to-business (B2B) marketing purposes between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or between a wholesaler and a retailer. It can provide an in-depth report or guide about a specific product or topic and is meant to educate its readers.

The facts presented in white papers are often backed by research and statistics from reliable sources and can include charts, graphs, tables, and other ways of visualizing data. A white paper can communicate an organization’s philosophy or present research findings related to an industry.

Types of White Papers

A startup , large corporation, or government agency will use white papers differently. There are three main types of white papers, including backgrounders, numbered lists, and problem/solution white papers.

Backgrounders detail the technical features of a new product or service. Designed to simplify complicated technical information, they are used to:

•Support a technical evaluation

•Launch a product

•Promote a product or industry leader

Numbered lists highlight the key takeaways of a new product or service, and are often formatted with headings and bullet points such as the following familiar format:

•3 Questions to Ask

•5 Things You Need to Know

Problem/solution papers identify specific problems faced by potential customers and suggest a data-driven argument about how a featured product or service provides a solution to:

•Generate new sales

•Educate salespeople on product characteristics

•Build industry interest.

White papers differ from other marketing materials, such as brochures. Brochures and traditional marketing materials might be flashy and obvious, but a white paper is intended to provide persuasive and factual evidence that solves a problem or challenge.

White papers are commonly at least 2,500 words in length and written in an academic style.

A white paper should provide well-researched information that is not found with a simple internet search and have a compelling narrative to keep the reader's attention. The author of a white paper should:

• Research and fully define the topic.

• Create an accurate outline of information.

• Write an attention-grabbing introduction.

• Format the paper for easy reading.

• Revise and proofread.

What Is an Example of a White Paper?

All of these documents, publicly available on Microsoft’s website, focus on aspects of the company's suite of cloud services. In contrast with brochures, these white papers don’t have a clear sales pitch. Instead, they dive into relevant topics, such as cloud security, hybrid clouds, and the economic benefits of adopting cloud computing.

  • An AI-First Infrastructure and Toolchain for Any Scale
  • Moving your Mission Critical Mainframe Data to Azure
  • Mesh and hub-and-spoke networks on Azure
  • Backup and recovery overview for Azure users
  • Backup and recovery overview for users new to Azure

How Have New Industries Used White Papers?

Cryptocurrencies have also been known to publish white papers during initial coin offerings (ICOs) and frequently issued white papers to entice users and "investors" to their projects.

Bitcoin famously launched a few months after the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto issued its famous white paper online in October 2008.

Why Is It Called a White Paper?

White Papers may have developed from the use of “Blue Papers” in 19th century Britain, where a Parliamentary report cover was blue. When a topic for the government was less serious, the blue cover was discarded and published with white covers. These reports were called White Papers. In the United States, the use of government white papers often means a background report or guidance on a specific issue.

A white paper is an informational document issued by a company, government agency, or not-for-profit organization to promote the features of a solution, product, or service that it offers or plans to offer. The facts presented in white papers are often backed by research and statistics from reliable sources and commonly written in one of three formats that include backgrounders, numbered lists, and problem/solution papers.

Copy Engineer. " The 3 Types of White Papers and When to Use Each One ."

Master Class. " How To Write a White Paper ."

Microsoft. " White Papers on the Cloud and Azure ."

what does the business term white paper mean

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What Is a White Paper? [FAQs]

Lindsay Kolowich Cox

Published: February 01, 2023

The definition of a whitepaper varies heavily from industry to industry, which can be a little confusing for marketers looking to create one for their business.

content team working on the design of a whitepaper

The old-school definition comes from politics, where it means a legislative document explaining and supporting a particular political solution.

In tech, a whitepaper usually describes a theory behind a new piece of technology. Even a business whitepaper can serve a variety of uses and audiences -- some more product-focused than others. And although it is put together like an ebook, the two are written quite differently.

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We're here to arm you with the best definition of a whitepaper in the context of business and what to do (and not do) as you create one. This article covers: 

  • What is a whitepaper?
  • How to write a whitepaper
  • Whitepaper examples

What Is a Whitepaper?

A whitepaper is a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution.

Marketers create whitepapers to educate their audience about a particular issue, or explain and promote a particular methodology. They're advanced problem-solving guides. Typically, whitepapers require at least an email address for download (usually they require information more than that), making them great for capturing leads.

What Isn't a Whitepaper?

A product pitch.

Although Investopedia defines a whitepaper as "an informational document issued by a company to promote or highlight the features of a solution, product, or service," be warned that overtly shilling your own stuff could turn off your readers.

The goal of a whitepaper is to inform and persuade based on facts and evidence, not tell the world why people need to buy your product right now.

How Are Whitepapers Different From Blog Posts and Ebooks?

Speaking of what a whitepaper isn't ... if you're looking for a quick and interactive way to present your value to the industry, a whitepaper is not your only option. There are also ebooks and blog posts -- both of which have various differences from a whitepaper.

What really set these products apart are the size, appearance, and time commitment of each one. Whereas writing blog posts and ebooks can take anywhere between a few hours and a few weeks, a good whitepaper can take between a few weeks and a few months to write and polish. They're less flashy, much more serious in tone, and more heavily researched than blog posts and ebooks.

Let me show you a comparison. The set below is one of our own ebook templates ( which you can get for free here ). It's a thorough but simple read:

Cover of a free ebook template offered by HubSpot

Now, here is a whitepaper based on our latest research on emerging tech for small to mid-sized businesses (a great report -- see the web version here ). You can see how much detail whitepapers can go into, both in text and in its images:

hubspot research whitepaper cover that reads: "a practical approach to emerging tech for smbs"

Ebooks and whitepapers can start on the same template. But ultimately, whitepapers are the academic papers of marketing content. Readers expect a high degree of expertise backed by solid research that is fully documented by references.

Ebooks, on the other hand, are often extensions of a subject you cover regularly on a blog. They can come out of diligent research, but they appeal to a wider audience when unpacking a business subject.

You can imagine this makes them kind of boring in comparison -- truthfully, most people don't actually want to read whitepapers, but they do it anyway to build their knowledge of an operation they need more insight on before making their next move.

For this reason, they tend to be particularly detailed and informative, authoritative, and written by industry experts. And these qualities can make some decision makers feel better about a future purchase.

What Makes a Good Whitepaper?

Technically, there are no minimum requirements for whitepapers. Anyone can call anything a whitepaper -- this doesn't mean you should, though. Without some boundaries on what is and what isn't a whitepaper, we risk confusing our audience and losing credibility. Here's what an A+ whitepaper looks like:

  • Length: No fewer than six pages, including illustrations, charts, and references. Can be upwards of 50 if the topic requires that much detail. (Chances are, it won't.)
  • Structure: There is usually a title page, table of contents, short executive summary (optional but helpful), introduction, several pages educating the reader about the problem, several pages hypothesizing a solution, several pages offering an example of a company that used that solution to achieve results, and a conclusion.
  • Density: Denser than an ebook. Whitepapers aren't usually easy to skim -- in fact, readers usually need to read them over more than once to get every morsel of information out of it.
  • Format: PDF in portrait orientation (8.5" by 11").
  • Style: Professional, serious, well written, and well edited. I'd recommend hiring a graphic designer to design page layout, images, fonts, and colors as well.

Whitepaper Examples for Lead Generation

So, if whitepapers are so boring, why do marketers create them? Well, they're a great resource for your prospects and sales team, and they help you build credibility and trust with your readers. Also, people who choose to download whitepapers often are further into the customer buying cycle .

With that in mind, here are two use cases for a whitepaper:

A Technical Case Study

It's been said that case studies, like ebooks, are very different from whitepapers. However, some case studies are long enough that they're best packaged as whitepapers themselves.

A case study is essentially the story of a customer's success reaching a goal as a result of their partnership with another party. This success is best conveyed through certain metrics the customer has agreed to be measured on. And depending on how technical or complex the service is that they received, the more research and detail other potential customers will want to see as they continue their buyer's journey.

Therefore, case study-based whitepapers can be a terrific way of demonstrating thought leadership on a dense concept through a real-world example of how this concept helped someone else succeed.

A Reference Guide

Imagine you work for a company that sells kitchen cleaning equipment to restaurants and you write a whitepaper about the maintenance and inspection of commercial kitchens.

That whitepaper is probably chock full of information about legal requirements for exhaust systems, cooking equipment, and cleanliness documentation that could put even the biggest kitchen maintenance enthusiast to sleep if read cover-to-cover.

But it also serves as an incredibly useful reference for restaurant owners who want to know how to maintain their kitchens to pass inspection. Once they know how clean they need to keep their kitchens, they'll likely buy some expensive cleaning equipment from you because they see you as a helpful, detail-oriented, credible source.

Many people create whitepapers for this purpose -- a resource that their leads can take with them to become better at their trade. Ideally, the better they become, the more qualified they are to work with the organization that gave them the whitepaper.

Now that you know the purpose of whitepapers and how they differ from ebooks, it's time to get started in creating your own. With the above best practices in mind, here's the approach you can take to produce an excellent whitepaper for your audience: 

How to Write a Whitepaper

  • Identify your audience's pain.
  • Do your research.
  • Create an outline.
  • Put pen to paper and flesh out your outline.
  • Use imagery to support your points.
  • Get feedback.
  • Invest in the formatting and design.

1. Identify your audience's pain. 

While you're a subject matter expert in a unique position to provide content, you must consider your audience and what is going on in their lives. By creating a whitepaper that addresses (and solves) for their needs, you'll better be able to generate demand for your whitepaper. 

To do this, consider creating a buyer persona . This activity will help you put yourself in their shoes. Then, you'll want to consider what kind of information would attract them, how they'd use the information, and how it would solve their pain or problem. 

2. Do your research. 

Whitepapers are informational in nature, and you'll want to determine how to provide information your audience can't get elsewhere. You can do that by:

  • Running an original study/survey
  • Putting together unique case studies
  • Detailing a unique process or project

If you're unable to do your own research, try drawing statistics from government and/or survey organizations and analyzing them in a unique way (and make sure you cite your sources).  

3. Create an outline. 

Because whitepapers are long-form in nature, an outline can help organize your thoughts. Consider sketching out your topic in the following format: 

  • Introduction and Synopsis - Introducing the topic of the whitepaper, explaining why it's important (from the standpoint of the audience), and what the whitepaper sets to do, convey, or solve. 
  • Overview - Defining some some of the key terms you intend to use, detailing the variables or parameters involved, and summarizing what you'll discuss. 
  • Body - Laying out all the key points and highlights you'll hit. 
  • Conclusion - Explaining the key take-aways from the body and any action items the reader should take.

4. Put pen to paper and flesh out your outline. 

Using an informational and fact-based tone, begin expanding on the ideas you have by using the outline as a guide. In addition, each paragraph should contribute to the overall goal of the piece. 

5. Use imagery to support your points. 

Because whitepapers go deep on research and analysis, visuals such as charts, graphs, and tables can help you present information in a visually interesting way and make the paper easier to read. 

6. Get feedback. 

It's critical to present the best write-up you can for your readers. The higher quality it is, the more authority you'll have in your audience's eyes. Get feedback from someone you trust to catch typos or other issues with readability. 

7. Invest in the formatting and design. 

While it's not necessary to get too flashy with it, color, layout, and imagery goes a long way to make your whitepaper appealing. 

Whitepaper Examples

To provide even more inspiration, here are modern examples of whitepapers that are emblematic of great whitepaper execution (and why):

1. Not Another State of Marketing Report , HubSpot

HubSpot does an amazing job every year compiling data from experts and partners to convey modern trends in the marketing landscape. This is useful for marketers because they can use the statistics to create marketing and sales content as well as learn from the macro shifts that are happening in the industry. The whitepaper presents this information with attractive graphs and short editorial summaries along with links to more in-depth articles on each topic.

hubspot whitepaper example: "not another state of marketing report" cover for 2020

Image Source

2. It's Not You, It's My Data , Custora

Custora created this whitepaper about customer churn, why it's important, and how to prevent it. What makes this ebook great is that it promises concrete value to the reader (revenue savings from preventing attrition) backed by a wealth of data and actionable advice. Even better, the whitepaper is modern and attractive, so the reading experience is pleasant. This helps the reader consume the long-form content without friction.

custora whitepaper example: "it's not you, it's my data" cover that reads "leveraging customer analytics to build a scalable customer churn prevention system"

3. Google Cloud's AI Adoption Framework , Google

This whitepaper leverages Google's authority to persuade the reader into adopting AI. By providing a methodology in the beginning, Google aims to give the reader the tools to think through the power of AI as it can be applied to their business. Then, the whitepaper dives into more technical information for advanced readers.

google whitepaper example: cover that reads "google cloud's AI adoption framework"

4. Employees and Cybersecurity , Excedeo

Excedo aims to educate about the security risks that employees may unknowingly pose to businesses when improperly trained. The whitepaper advocates about the types of internal IT policies and training that are essential in today's world.

excedo whitepaper example: first page that reads "employees and cyber security" and an introduction to the topic

Whitepapers have a long history, and their uses have continued to change. Be sure to decide whether or not a whitepaper will actually serve your audience before spending the months-long process to produce it. Sometimes, an ebook will do just fine. On the other hand, long-form educational content has a place in your content strategy.

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Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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What is a whitepaper?

How to write a whitepaper—and what you can expect it to do for your business..

A hero image with a photograph of a woman looking at a graph on a computer screen

Whenever I say the word whitepaper, I often get glazed-over looks, weird nodding motions, and get-me-out-of-here body language. And sure, a whitepaper isn't as glamorous as a data report or as relatable as a blog post, but don't knock it till you've tried it.

I've written several whitepapers (also known as special reports or research reports) over the years, and they're actually pretty interesting to research and write, especially if you love doing deep dives into topics.

And when done properly, whitepapers generate quality leads that will advance through the sales process. Here's everything you need to know about whitepapers.

Benefits of a whitepaper

When to use a whitepaper

Whitepaper examples

Whitepaper vs. eBook vs. blog post

Types of whitepapers

How to write a whitepaper

A whitepaper is a sales and marketing document written as an authoritative report to educate and inform potential customers. It discusses, in-depth, a potential solution to the prospect's problem , or pain point, where your product or service is an obvious solution. By incorporating research, studies, surveys, and other data to support the presented information, your whitepaper answers your customers' questions while simultaneously nudging them to consider your business as a solution. It's a win-win.

Because whitepapers genuinely help your audience and position you as an authority, they're a really valuable lead generation tool: whitepapers are typically presented as gated content , meaning prospects have to complete a form (providing their contact information) to download the content. 

With Zapier , you can automatically send the data you capture in your lead gen forms to your CRM, email marketing tool, or any other app you use. Learn more .

But remember: although a whitepaper is a marketing document, it's not a pitch or product presentation. It's designed to be a resource for ideal prospects at various stages of their buying journey .

A customer will read a whitepaper because it educates them on something they want to know more about. But in the process, whitepapers help potential customers learn more about your product, service, or solution and persuade them to take the next step in their buying journey. 

Here are the primary benefits for your business:

It positions you as an authority in your industry, demonstrating that you understand your customers' problems and how to solve them.

It increases awareness of your solution to those problems.

It builds brand trust by helping prospects make an informed buying decision.

It gets you valuable contact details and insights for nurturing leads .

It serves as sales enablement content , helping your sales team close deals.

When should you use a whitepaper?

Let's say you have a coffee shop. Coffee is a product that speaks for itself—anyone walking by can smell what you're brewing and decide if it's enticing or not. But if your offering is less tangible and more knowledge-based, then you'll need a different way to draw in customers and display your expertise. Whitepapers are a great solution.

This is especially true if you sell something relatively complex or with a longer sales cycle. Just keep in mind that it's a trade-off: by gating the content, you're not getting the SEO value from it. You'll have fewer eyeballs on your content, but the people attached to those eyeballs will be much more likely to buy from you.

Here are two whitepaper examples, to give you a sense of what they look like.

Whitepaper example: Jiminny

This whitepaper , published by Jiminny, is designed to attract leads that want to better understand what sales functions look like in a mostly virtual world. It cites studies and sales leaders to help inform the audience, and it only briefly mentions its conversational intelligence tool that can help sales teams perform better.

A screenshot of a small section of the Jiminny whitepaper

Whitepaper example: Highspot

This whitepaper , published by Highspot, is designed to attract B2B prospects that want to give their sales reps the right content at the right time, while avoiding inconsistent or off-brand messaging. As a sales enablement platform, Highspot is positioned to offer this type of education, and folks interested in it will likely be qualified leads for them.

A screenshot of a small portion of the Highspot whitepaper

Whitepaper vs. eBook vs. blog post: What's the difference?

You have a bunch of options for written content—a whitepaper is only one of them. 

A blog post is lighter in tone, shorter in length, and never gated. While blog posts vary in length, they're generally shorter than eBooks or whitepapers—and they tend to be hyper-focused on a specific topic.

An eBook can also be light in tone, but it's longer and usually gated. It digs deeper into a topic or might present information on a broader collection of topics. It also often has a lot of visuals to support the text.

A whitepaper is often more authoritative in tone, is longer, and cites research from start to finish. 

Each of these options can be used for various stages of the buying journey, and each can point to your product or service as a solution, but you'll be attracting different types of audiences depending on which one you choose. And, of course, you can (and depending on your industry, should!) be creating all three. You can even repurpose content from one to use in another.

The 3 main types of whitepaper

Once you've decided you need a whitepaper, you'll need to figure out which type of whitepaper you want to develop. You can map it to the stage of the customer journey you're targeting.

Numbered list whitepaper

This type of whitepaper presents a set of points about a specific topic of interest to your audience, often leaning heavily on industry trends.

Funnel stage: Awareness . This roundup style is often used to nurture prospects in the early stages of the customer journey—folks who are looking for general industry information and want to be better informed.

Example : Jiminny's research report, The Top Six Sales Trends of 2022 .

Problem/solution whitepaper

This type of whitepaper recommends a new or better solution for a challenging business or technical problem. 

Funnel stage: Consideration . This type of whitepaper is often used to attract and educate prospects in the middle stages of the buying journey: they know they have a problem, and they're researching ways to meet their challenges and goals. 

Example : Sales Readiness Group's whitepaper, Maximize the Effectiveness of Sales Training .


This type of whitepaper explains the technical features of a product or service and its related benefits. 

Funnel stage: Decision . This is useful for prospects comparing a shortlist of solutions near the end of the customer journey: they want more information about your specific product or service.

Example : Highspot's whitepaper, Highspot Security Overview: How we protect your data .

There are also loads of business-savvy chimeras that combine aspects of each of these types. Don't feel pigeon-holed, but use these three types as guidance for how to think about developing your whitepaper.

Now it's time to sit down and write the thing. But how exactly do you do that? First, keep in mind that writing a whitepaper takes longer and is much more intense than writing a blog post. You're not going to bang it out in one sitting, so before you begin the process, it's best to have a roadmap to keep you on track.

Select a topic and style

Do your research

Create an outline

Get feedback

Write your whitepaper

Edit and refine

Add formatting, graphics, and design

Create a landing page

1. Select a topic and style

Choosing the right topic for your whitepaper directly influences the results. If you select a topic of serious interest to your ideal audience, you'll generate lots of leads and insights. Otherwise, you'll have wasted your time on a long piece of content.

Develop or use an existing customer profile to help identify your audience's top needs, challenges, and goals. Then, determine where you need content along the customer journey: awareness, consideration, or decision. 

Ask yourself:

Do I need something to explain how my product solves a problem for a specific audience to attract new leads? 

Do I need a well-researched report to nurture prospects until they're ready to buy? 

Is there a complex feature that prospects need to understand thoroughly before making their final buying decision? 

These questions will help you identify which type of whitepaper to write and what topic to write about.

2. Do your research

To write about a topic well, you'll need to understand it through and through. Complete thorough research before diving into any actual writing: read other papers on the topic, interview subject matter experts, or conduct a survey. Search for data, surveys, and research studies from authoritative industry sources to help build your argument and prove your whitepaper's premise. 

If your whitepaper reads like a blog post, with minimal citations and a lack of authoritative sources, readers won't see you as a valuable source of information.

3. Create an outline

An outline may seem tedious—and I'm not going to force you to make one for every short blog post you write—but when it comes to a whitepaper, it's necessary. It's easy to ramble when you're writing long-form content , and an outline prevents you from getting off-topic. You'll be glad you have one after you write a few pages and think, "Wait…where am I going with this?" 

Here's a standard whitepaper format:


Executive summary

Various sections (and subsections) throughout the body, guided by your research

Somewhere in your whitepaper (usually at the beginning or end), you'll also want a section about your company. How prominent this description is will depend on the type of whitepaper you're writing, but you want people to know who's providing this valuable resource.

Also in your outline, indicate where you'll want graphics and what you think those graphics should demonstrate or represent. This will help you kick off the design aspect earlier, so there isn't a design bottleneck once you've completed the whitepaper.

4. Get feedback

Always run your outline by other stakeholders before moving forward. (If you have a sales or customer support team, they're great resources because they have their finger on the pulse of customer pain points.) Now's your chance to get everyone on the same page, brainstorm any gaps in the content, or see a different perspective on a given topic.

If you do this before writing, it'll save you a lot of time and effort down the line.

5. Write your whitepaper

With that feedback in hand, flesh out your outline and write the body of your whitepaper report. Dig into that research, and give your readers keen insights and valuable takeaways. A few specific notes:

Add subheadings to break up large sections for readers who prefer to skim—they'll also make the document easier to read for everyone. 

Add comments to note when something should be placed in a callout box or otherwise highlighted in the final version.

Indicate where different visuals will be placed.

Cite your sources. I know this goes without saying, but it's a non-negotiable.

Once you've finished the body copy, write your introduction, executive summary, and conclusion. Readers get the gist of the report by reading these sections before deciding if reading the whole whitepaper is worthwhile.

6. Edit and refine

Let your whitepaper draft sit for a day or more, and then come back to it. Review the document with a fresh outlook, and try reading it aloud to make sure it flows properly from section to section—do your best self-editing .

Once you have what you think is a final draft of your whitepaper, have a trusted colleague or an editor do a final proofread. (Or they might give you bigger picture feedback, in which case, back to the drawing board!)

7. Add formatting, graphics, and design

You've done it—you have a final draft. Now, make it visually pleasing. Work with a designer to add those graphs, charts, or illustrations to help your audience literally see your points. Lean into aesthetics and dress up your whitepaper with a dynamic layout and design aspects. Just be sure your design choices aren't interfering with readability.

8. Create a landing page with a lead gen form

You're ready to roll out your whitepaper. Create a landing page or pop-up where your audience can trade contact information for your content. If you have an existing resource library on your website, put it there; otherwise, a one-off page will do the trick. (Here are some tips on crafting solid lead gen forms and a case for using micro conversions .)

Highspot landing page for a whitepaper, with a lead gen form

And remember, the landing page is only one way to get people to download your whitepaper. You should also get your sales team involved, and advise them to share your whitepaper with prospects they've been nurturing. Use your whitepaper cross-functionally, and reap the benefits of your well-researched, well-crafted document.

Read more: 11 one-pager examples and how to create your own

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Margot Howard

Margot is a freelance content marketing writer with many years of corporate sales experience. She writes for B2B SaaS, software, and service companies, especially Sales Technology companies. When she isn't writing, you can find Margot cooking, hiking, or walking her dog. Connect with her on LinkedIn:

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what does the business term white paper mean

White Paper

what does the business term white paper mean

  • What is a White Paper?

A white paper (whitepaper) is an information document usually provided by a company or non-profit entity to advertise or illustrate the functionality of a solution, good, or service. White papers are often written as marketing and sales documents which entice or convince potential customers to learn more about or purchase a specific product, service, technology or methodology.

White papers are intended to be used as a pre-sale marketing tool, and not as a user manual or other technical documents developed to support the user after making a purchase.

  • Basics of a White Paper

A white paper is intended to promote a specific product, service, technology, or technique, and to influence the decisions of current and prospective customers. Many white papers are designed for marketing purposes related to B2B (business to business), such as between a supplier and a wholesaler, or between a wholesaler and a retailer.

The white paper is used to notify and convince the other organisation that a specific offer (such as a technology or product) is superior to solve a particular business issue or to overcome a specific challenge.

There are three critical types of white papers about B2B marketing: 1. Backgrounders describing the technological features of a specific offering 2. Numbered lists highlighting tips or points about an offering 3. White papers problem/solution, which incorporates an improved solution to an accessible business or technical issue

White papers are distinct from other marketing materials, for instance, brochures. While brochures and other materials may be flashy and include apparent sales pitches, a white paper is aimed to provide persuasive and factual evidence that a particular offer is a superior approach to or the resolution of a problem or challenge. White papers are usually at least 2,500 words long and written in a more scholarly format.

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Knowledge Base > Presentations > What is a White Paper?

What is a White Paper?

what is a white paper

What’s the significance of white papers in the modern economic world?

White papers have been around since the 1960s when they were first used by companies as a significant tool for self-promotion. Today, the definition of what makes up a white paper has changed as technology and new formats have been introduced. Generally speaking, white paper is a term used to describe published proposals for new or improved technologies, product ideas, and business models.

This article discusses the best way of creating effective whitepapers , some of their main features, and their role in business nowadays.

What is a white paper?

A white paper is an informational document that is created by an organization to educate readers on the features and benefits of a product or service. Whitepapers require a formal tone and are written with a clear objective in mind, such as persuading people to purchase a certain product or convincing them to switch from one service provider to another.

white paper cover

White papers very often serve as advanced reference guide presenting the solution to a specific kind of problem. Very often they present also the research findings in a particular area. That is why they are often written by experts in the field or company representatives.

White papers are also used as a tool to help generate sales leads, build credibility, gain new customers or present the company’s product.

In general, the goal of a whitepaper is to provide the reader with knowledge on the subject and help them make decisions.

Create a unique white paper with Publuu

When you start using Publuu’s flipbook maker, you will never go back to a standard PDF format of your white paper.

Publuu offers you the opportunity to convert your PDF file into an interactive flipbook , company newsletter, or to create a stunning digital magazine . Your audience will be surprised by the form of your document and the amazing page-flipping effect which resembles the real reading experience. All you need to do is to prepare a PDF file and then upload it to Publuu; your document will convert into a flipbook in just a few seconds. But that’s not the end! You can customize your flipbook by adding your brand logotype and matching background colors, diversifying it with some graphics and images, or including a few interactive links in a form of hotspots that can help you to engage your audience!

Publuu’s white paper example

View more online flipbook examples


Even if white papers are usually in a long-form, you don’t need to worry about the size of your digital document. Publuu makes it easy to send it as a direct link, without any attachments in your email. Then it offers you an advanced tracking tool that will help you to see how your white paper performs in real-time. Using this function, you will have insight into the statistics, such as the amount of time your reader spent on each page and the number of interactions he takes with your white paper.

Publuu takes care of the clarity of your white paper. It uses vector fonts that can be zoomed in and out without losing quality which makes it much easier to read your whitepapers on mobile devices.

So, if you want your white paper to stand out from the crowd, you should definitely try Publuu!

What is the origin of a white paper?

The term “white paper” was first used in the late 1960s, when a company called Memorex produced an educational film about magnetic tape storage. In order to demonstrate how reliable this technology was, they had one of their engineers write a paper explaining how data could be stored on tape and then retrieved without error. This kind of guide was later considered as one of the first white papers.

Another popular white paper was written by IBM and titled “An Introduction to General Systems Thinking”. The paper was designed as a way for IBM to present its vision of the future and how it could help other organizations think about their own future challenges and opportunities.

whitepaper origin

It is said that the term “white paper” was officially defined in 1972. Nowadays, white papers are still widely used by corporations all around the world as a way to educate prospective customers on products or services that might interest them. They have also become a popular tool for start-ups and smaller businesses, as they allow these companies to promote their product or service without spending a lot of money on traditional advertising.

What are the main types of white paper?

There are many types of white papers, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, some white papers may be more informative while others may be more promotional.

The most popular types of white papers are backgrounders, lists, or advanced problem-solving guides. For example, a backgrounder provides the reader with information relevant to a vendor’s product, service, or methodology. It is the least challenging type to produce, thus the content is readily available as in-house material. Numbered lists, on the other hand, present the set of tips or questions on a particular issue. Below you will find a few more white paper examples .

company white paper

Thought leadership white paper

This particular type of white paper is a document that is created to persuade readers to adopt a particular perspective or course of action. The white paper presents an argument for the position and then backs up that argument with evidence.

The goal of this white paper is to convince readers that the proposed solution is better than any other option for addressing the problem. It does this by presenting a compelling argument backed up by evidence and data.

Technical white paper

Technical white papers are often used to provide technical information and promote innovations in science or engineering, or to describe a particular product and its technical features.

Technical white papers are usually created by experts in the field of content. They are intended to be read by other experts in the same field. They are often not written with the intention of being read by people who do not have expertise in that area.

white paper

Problem-solving white paper

The problem-solving white paper is a type of document that is used to help to find a specific problem solution. The content should be concise and informative, but it should also be easy to read. It should also be designed in such a way that the reader can understand the solution to their problem quickly.

This type of document is usually written by an expert who has knowledge in the field of the problem being solved. It can also be written by someone who has experience with solving similar problems in the past. This person should have knowledge about how to offer an improved solution to this type of issue, as well as how to write effectively on the subject matter.

A good example of what this type of document would look like is when someone creates one for a company’s HR department on how they can reduce employee turnover rates.

White paper and academic papers – what’s the difference?

In theory, commercial white papers and scientific papers are very similar. They both place an emphasis on the content rather than design and neither will have any additional artwork or photographs.

Moreover, they both are around the same length – from 6-12 pages. Both of them have footnotes or endnotes which cite respected journals and experts for the information presented. While on the surface it might look like their formatting is similar, there is at least one important difference between white papers and academic papers.

academic papers and white papers

A white paper is a document that provides information about a specific product or service. It is usually used to promote or sell a product or service. A scientific paper, on the other hand, is a document that provides information about research or results of experiments. Scientific papers outline their research findings in the executive summary or introduction, while white papers include them deeper into the document.

So the main difference is that scientific papers tend to have no promotional aim. The primary goal of an academic paper is to present new research results, either experimental or theoretical.

Thus, a white paper, unlike a scientific publication, is typically long and comprehensive, with sections that include an executive summary, background information, data analysis, conclusions, and recommendations and it’s often used as a marketing tool by companies to promote their expertise in a particular industry or subject matter.

What are the benefits of white papers for your business?

White papers are great for conveying complex ideas in quite simple language, which is why they are often used in the marketing and sales process. They can be used as part of an educational campaign to help customers understand how your product or service will benefit them.

what is a white paper

The benefits of white papers include, for example, increased website traffic, more sales leads, improved search engine rankings, and last but not least, better customer engagement.

White papers contain information that is not found anywhere else on the web, which makes them highly valuable for SEO purposes. They are also great for generating leads because they give potential customers something to take away with them when they leave your site.

The white paper is helpful for those who want help with developing their sales pitch to potential clients. All in all, some companies use them as part of their sales process, while others use them to promote themselves and their products.

Writing white papers

A white paper is a long and detailed report that is usually created by experts. It provides readers with a comprehensive overview of a specific topic, in-depth analysis, and data. A white paper is typically created in a PDF file format. It is usually around 10-20 pages long, but can be shorter or longer depending on the complexity of the topic.

There are two ways to write a white paper:

1) Hiring someone to write it for you or

2) Writing it yourself.

Hiring someone to write a white paper for you can be expensive, but it will save you time and effort in the long term. This way, you won’t have to worry about writing an essay that’s 1,500 words long or finding relevant sources.

If you decide to write your own white paper, then the first step is to brainstorm ideas and topics. You need to know what your specific audience wants so that you can provide them with what they need. If you’re not sure where to start, use Google Trends or Google Keyword Planner and search for keywords related to your industry.

The second step to writing a white paper is to identify your target audience. A white paper should be targeted at people who are interested in the subject you are writing about. This will help you decide what information to include and what angle you should take when presenting it.

The next step is doing research on the topic of your white paper by reading other relevant documents, books, articles, and data. The last step is to create your white paper that will be published on the Internet.

writing white paper

There are four main components of an effective white paper:

The introduction

The introduction of a white paper should be an attention-grabbing paragraph that compels readers to continue reading. It should also include an outline of what is covered in the paper, as well as any benefits that are included in the paper. You can start with an anecdote or quote that will catch the reader’s attention.

The main body

The body should contain 3-5 sections, each one focusing on a specific aspect of your topic. The content of the white paper usually includes descriptions of the benefits of using the product or service being marketed, a list of features and benefits, details on how it works, and what it costs to purchase or use it, customer testimonials, and case studies where possible.

The conclusion

The conclusion should summarize the main points of your argument and leave the reader feeling satisfied with what they have read. You can include an appendix at the end that provides additional information for those interested in learning more about your topic.

What about the white paper format? White papers are usually written in a standard document format. They are more similar to a research paper than traditional reports.

White papers in content marketing strategy

A high-quality white paper can serve as a powerful content marketing tool for companies. It is an effective way to showcase the company’s expertise and establish its thought leadership position in the marketplace. It also helps to generate leads and get to a wider audience.

The white paper is a very popular form of digital marketing because it provides a valuable service to the reader and then asks them to take the action at the end of it. This makes it easier for companies to convert leads into customers. Company marketers often create this kind of in-depth report about a specific issue, or particular methodology to teach the reader, solve their problems, and as a result, generate leads.

white paper in content marketing

The business-to-business (B2B) white paper is designed to provide the reader with detailed information and relevant content so they can make an informed decision. The purpose of this type of digital marketing is to educate the reader and encourage them to purchase products or services from the company that created the document. This way, white papers are a great tool for lead generation and potential customers search.

So, in content marketing, white papers are mainly used for:

– creating awareness of your company or product among clients,

– persuading customers to buy your product or service,

– providing educational material for your customers.

The white paper can be distributed through email, social media, and other digital channels. It can also be distributed through physical channels such as direct mail or by handing them out at trade shows and conferences.

What is a white paper – conclusion

White papers are typically used by companies, financial institutions, or government organizations to generate interest in their product or service, and they can be very effective in this regard. They are devoted to a specific audience and are very often used for building trust and finding a solution to a concrete problem statement.

A traditional white paper discusses some technical information or presents original research on a given topic. It is also a great content marketing tool – marketers use white papers as a lead generation tool to get potential clients interested in their business.

You may be also interested in: How to Create an Effective Business Presentation? Tips For a Good Company Presentation The Best Free Interactive Presentation Software in 2021

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